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Reader Poll – How did you like Cloverfield?

America has welcomed Cloverfield with $41 million in ticket sales, the highest ever made by a movie in a three-day January weekend.

Meanwhile, the theater in which I saw Cloverfield last night greeted the end credits with stunned, silent disappointment and a smattering of “‘boos.” Oh, and sarcastic clapping from some smart ass. (And, no… it wasn’t me.) Some kid even felt compelled to look right at me–a stranger–and say, “That was the worst movie I’ve ever seen.”

I’d hardly call the movie awful, but the friend who joined me and I agreed that in spite of a few genuinely jarring or spectacular scenes, the word that best-encapsulated the movie was: annoying.

Everything you might have read in the reviews is true. The movie is thick with style and interesting visuals, but comes up short on substance like character development. I cared not one iota whether the characters lived or died. And not just because I have something against unnaturally pretty hipsters with distractingly-mediocre acting skills. The entertainingly violent and aberrant cause of death was the only noteworthy part of any main character biting the Big One.

The shaky-cam is awful. I had to look away from the screen several times thanks to motion sickness. I appreciate the storytelling approach of having the characters document the action as it happens with their personal camcorder, but any sense of realism is consistently obstructed by the less-than-perfect acting and casting and the awkward, exposition-ridden script.

Finally, the film doesn’t do enough of what it does well–portray the loud, flashy, and fantastic struggles of the military against the monster(s). For a brief second, I longed for the gratuitousness of Godzilla.

So there’s my two cents. Obviously, opinions vary. That’s why I’d like to hear what you think. No, really… I do.

UPDATE:  Nima of Equinox of Insanity–who frigging loved the film–has posted a wholly-sensible response to my mini-review.  He affirms the validity of a couple of my critiques, but suggests that perhaps the polarized responses to Cloverfield are a result of the variance in which moviegoers believed and connected with the characters.  (And the shaky-cam didn’t help.)

30 comments… add one
  • paul January 21, 2008, 10:45 pm

    Wow, it looks like it’s the Blair Witch all over again. You either love it or hate it. I love it. I can’t believe that when someone says they hate it that they’ve seen the same movie.

  • Great White Snark January 21, 2008, 10:49 pm

    Yeah, it’s definitely polarizing. I had the same reaction of disbelief when I read glowing reviews.

  • Nicholas January 21, 2008, 11:37 pm

    I hated Blair Witch, but Cloverfield had me on edge the entire time. Not scared, but just wondering just what would happen next. I thought it was a solid 8/10.

  • Great White Snark January 21, 2008, 11:49 pm

    Fair enough. I did experience that same thing. Like when they were hanging out in the subway station, I was like, “I wonder when this movie is going to start getting good again.”

    Seriously, though, I spent most of the time waiting for more monsterlicious action, because–again–I couldn’t have cared less what happened to the characters next. It wasn’t suspense so much as impatience.

  • Kenny January 22, 2008, 12:11 am

    Loved it!

  • nickolai January 22, 2008, 12:43 am

    I agree GWS. Some original stuff and some fiesty scenes, but that camera-work and character work just bugged.

  • Lis January 22, 2008, 1:41 am

    So it’s like Blair Witch with special effects? I think I’ll pass. I can do without the motion sickness. Besides, I’m not a big fan of Alias and Lost.

  • Jason - GorillaSushi January 22, 2008, 5:31 am

    I know that I’m not going to change any minds but…
    – If you’d cared more about the characters, you would probably have wanted to kill yourself after watching the movie.
    – Acting skills: they were supposed to be fairly unknown to add to the realistic feel plus no actor was allowed to read the script until they had been signed on (something a big name actor would have never done)
    – Tip from grandpa (me): sit further back in the theater when seeing shaky movies – it reduces the effects.

    Maybe you’ll like the sequel better :)

    Nerd rant: over.

  • paul January 22, 2008, 8:47 am

    I didn’t have one second of motion sickness. I guess I’d be more prone to disliking the film if it made me physically ill I guess.

  • Drew January 22, 2008, 9:09 am

    I thought it rocked; I thought the camera motion was minimal (especially compared to BWP) and I thought it was an excellently done movie with very few slow spots.

    10/10 from me. Better than just about anything that came out in 2007.

  • Cindi January 22, 2008, 10:17 am

    Thanks for the heads-up, GWS. I won’t waste precious moments of my life on “Cloverfield” when I could be watching “Juno” again. (I know you nerds are snickering, but I don’t care. With my limited opportunities to see movies in the theater, I’d rather see the wonderfully written, amazingly acted “Juno” 20 times than “Cloverfield” once.) I hated “Blair Witch Project,” btw. The hype around that turkey was definitely a case of the emperor having no clothes…a sucker born every minute…chose your cliche.

  • Ahanovich January 22, 2008, 10:51 am

    Loved this movie! very well made, I felt like I was RIGHT THERE the whole time!! It was mildly nauseating…. but well worth it! I’d watch it again!

  • Paul January 22, 2008, 12:17 pm

    “The hype around that turkey was definitely a case of the emperor having no clothes…a sucker born every minute…chose your cliche.”

    I guess I’m a sucker, I loved Blair Witch.

  • Great White Snark January 22, 2008, 12:23 pm

    I completely feel like the cranky old man on this one. I wish I had enjoyed it more… I was just as excited about it as everyone else. Clearly I wasn’t alone in my reaction, though, based on the mood in the theater where I saw it.


    – If I cared more about the characters, I might have been less detached from the movie.
    – There’s never a good excuse for distractingly-mediocre acting.
    – I sat reasonably far back… although you probably can’t sit far back enough in a stadium-seating-style, humongo-screen theater.

    Anyway, weak-willed geek that I am, I hope I do enjoy the sequel, because Yaweh knows I’ll be there opening weekend. The monster scenes alone would bring me back, hoping for the best.

    P.S. I enjoyed Blair Witch the one time that I saw it; I was effectively creeped out.

  • Cindi January 22, 2008, 1:09 pm

    Not that you want to turn this into a discussion of BWP, but the only scene that creeped me out was the last one. Otherwise, the characters seemed like dumb twits to me.

    I’ll be interested to see if Cloverfield continues to do as well after word of mouth starts circulating.

  • Paul January 22, 2008, 3:59 pm

    “I’ll be interested to see if Cloverfield continues to do as well after word of mouth starts circulating.”

    This is a tough call, because depending on where you go you either hear its really good or really bad. If you go by reviews it currently has about a 70% on Rotten Tomatoes.

  • Nathan D January 22, 2008, 4:12 pm

    yes, but was it fun to the see the Star Trek teaser before-hand?

  • Great White Snark January 22, 2008, 4:38 pm

    Point is, people are talking (and the people who like it really, really like it), so I think it’ll probably serve the movie well.

    Nathan, as you can see for yourself in the teaser (which is now online), it’s a bit of a yawner… especially if you’re not a Star Trek fan.

  • Paul January 22, 2008, 5:43 pm

    Yeah, it’s a boring teaser but it did get me interested in seeing the new film where I hadn’t been at all before.

  • nikothefinn January 24, 2008, 3:36 pm

    I would just like to point out that if the opening weekend is inflation-adjusted, then Cloverfield does not hold the #1 spot – it is, in fact, The Star Wars Special Edition release of 11 years ago, according to BoxOfficeMojo.

  • Jimmy B. January 25, 2008, 5:50 pm

    I have not seen it yet but a couple of my friends saw it and they gave it two thumbs down (can I even say that or is it a trademark phrase?)
    To be fare they are on the “hard to please” side of the scale though. I’m wondering if it would be a better thing to watch on the little screen at home.

  • Great White Snark January 25, 2008, 5:55 pm

    You’d certainly be at less risk of getting motion sickness seeing it on the little screen, Jimmy. On the other hand, the handful of scenes with the monster are quite dramatic in the theater, thanks to the big picture and sound.

  • Jimmy B. January 25, 2008, 6:44 pm

    I one day dream of owning my own Home Theater with the surround sound and the big ol screen but until then I sit in front of the tube with speakers on the side.

  • Rori January 27, 2008, 8:16 pm

    I think I fall somewhere between “loved it” and “eh.” I didn’t hate it. I thought it was pretty cool…but…and there’s always a but…I agree with you about character development. I wish the video would have cut to the day in bed/at Coney Island more often. Than maybe I would have cared that they ALL DIED TO SAVE THAT BITCH.

  • greg January 27, 2008, 9:24 pm

    awsome!! part 2 can’t be made soon enough!!!

  • Cindi January 27, 2008, 9:46 pm

    Uh, Rori, thanks for giving away the ending.

  • Rori January 28, 2008, 12:12 am

    Sorry – considering that this was a comment section about whether or not you liked the movie, I didn’t know it was supposed to be spoiler-free…but whoever is in charge of moderating can feel free to edit that out…

  • Great White Snark January 28, 2008, 12:19 am

    Point well-taken, Rori. In fact, I was about to join you in a resounding chorus of “Not one quality of that chick would have made me want to risk my life to save her. And that’s from someone who’s a sucker for pretty girls.”

    I know it’s a long chorus, but… one worth singing.


    When Rob started crying at the end about, “They’re all dead, they’re all dead!” I fully expected him to say, “…and it’s all my fault for dragging them along to save my lame-ass non-girlfriend!” But then he didn’t say that at all.


  • hihior April 7, 2008, 6:29 am

    These so-called filmmakers just wanted to make money, and well succeeded, disgustingly. Just think that they even don’t know why the movie is call Cloverfield themselves.
    This movie (or shakie for more appropriateness) is a sheer scandal. Without that hype orchestrated by these swindlers thru the world and the net, I’d not be so vehement in my criticism. They knew better than anybody else that this movie sucks bad, but still wanted to make money, hence that unprecedented hype campaign using the modern media all over the world.

  • Ray October 28, 2008, 5:17 pm

    Late to the party, but I’m deployed so it took me a while to get around to watching this.

    Movie critique from me:

    The movie needed less “save the girlfriend” bull and much, MUCH more “military throwing everything they have at the monster” scenes.

    Same complaint about “War of the Worlds”. Less family stuff, more military stuff. Seeing the 10th Mountain soldiers launch Javelins at the weakened aliens at the end was, like, “Whoooo!”

    I get hyped by such scenes because I can identify with them, because that’s what I’d be doing if some mega-alien-monster-thing attacked the United States: getting deployed and order to attack it.

    Anyway… meh.

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